This morning, driving to work there was a faint smell coming into the car from the interstate that reminded me of the smell of the race track my brother and I used to have when we were kids (weird, I now. Nostalgia). I believe the track was made by Tyco and it came with a red Trans Am and a Police car (with working lights!).
The track was electric and as the Trans Am and police car chased each other around in a circle along the track the smell of ozone filled the air. We’d play with that thing for hours until some part inevitably broke or we got bored – or fought about something.
The cars stayed on the track by a small piece of plastic on the bottom that fit into a groove along the lines of the respective track that they were running down. Sometimes they flew off if we pushed the “gas” too fast and we laughed and wiggled with the delight as the car went barreling into the carpet. Crash! But sometimes they went around really fast, making a fantastic whizzing sound, taking the corners like a pro. Sometimes we even put up obstacles in the car’s way that they had to crash through.
A rut is a grave with its ends knocked out
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut and not know where to go, continually going around and around the track, again and again… and again. A lot of it has to do with how you view the current predicament. Your mindset. Do you see it as a rut, are you do you see it as a groove? It depends. Are the race cars in a rut? Or are they in the most perfect groove to allow them to be exactly what they were meant to be?
The race track has an obvious symbolic resemblance to life: the infinity loop, samsara, Yin and Yang, alpha and omega, dark and light. Pretty much any metaphor you want to put with it.
Round and round. Round and round.
The cars were meant to go round and round as fast as they could, with as much precision as they could, supplying as much fun as possible to two young boys. They exhibited their divine purpose. Should they be judged? Should they judge themselves?
No. There is acceptance. A knowing.
I once saw the cartoon (above) drawing of two fish in a bowl: a daddy fish and a baby fish. The daddy fish says “You can be anything you want to be – no limits”. The irony is that the fish could obviously not get out of the bowl. You might say it’s sad that the fish has limitations – it cannot get out of the bowl. It cannot fulfill its full potential!!! And if did get out of the bowl, what would happen? Likely it shortly died. Synchronistically, the bowl depends on the fish as well (a bowl without a fish is, well, just a bowl). This goes back to the glass-half-full/half-empty scenario as well as the interconnectivity of all things. But perspective can sometimes be elusive and we tend to ruminate over our current lot in life. Or situation. Or eating habits. We say things like “this is just me”. “I can’t change the world”. “What good what it do?”. “Who am I?”.
Any rut can be a groove. And any groove can be a rut. Perspective and conscious decision making is the difference.
This is not to say that you should simply be satisfied with what you’ve got, what’s been handed to you, and the direction you’re going. Sharks die if they are not constantly moving. You must be an active participant.
Joie de vivre!
The monotony of daily life, the 9 to 5, daily traffic, the “rat race”, crib to coffin. Can you imagine a lifetime in prison? Of being a person constructed of the daily barrage of: “I should do this”, “I shouldn’t do that”, “I could’ve done this”, “I could’ve done that”, “I wish”, “I hoped”. If these words have become part of your vocabulary, it may be a subtle hint that you’re in a rut. Maybe not entirely, maybe only for the moment. But it’s a signal that can help guide you on your way to the next big thing, to the change that you were looking for in your life to get you into your groove.
Notice where your language takes you, and how it can turn you away from the groove (or towards it). And when you notice it, don’t judge, don’t beat yourself up, don’t pat yourself on the back.